Looks like the IOC is going Full Bureaucrat CYA concerning Russia’s anti-LGBT laws:
The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday reaffirmed to the Washington Blade it will not allow athletes who compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics to publicly challenge Russia’s gay propaganda to minors ban during the games.
The IOC referred the Blade to a portion of the Olympic Charter adopted in 2001 that states “no form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise, may appear on persons, on sportswear, accessories or, more generally, on any article of clothing or equipment whatsoever worn or used by the athletes or other participants in the Olympic Games” outside of a manufacturer’s logo.
“This rule has been in place for many years and aims to separate sport from politics, honor the context of the Olympic games and ensure the peaceful gathering of athletes from over 200 nations, officials and spectators from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds,” the IOC told the Blade in a statement. “By its nature, the Olympic games cannot become a platform for any kind of demonstration and the IOC will not accept any proactive gesture that could harm their spirit and jeopardize their future.”
The Olympic Charter further states any athlete who violates the aforementioned rule could face disqualification or loss of their accreditation at the Sochi games….
Emphasis mine. Politics, never; advertising money, hell yes!
The vague centrist hopes that Russia would “bend” their anti-LGBT laws to salvage the Sochi 2014 games are doomed to disappointment. Via commentor OriGuy:
MOSCOW (AP) — Pole vault great Yelena Isinbayeva condemned homosexuality Thursday after criticizing fellow competitors who painted their fingernails in rainbow colors to support gays and lesbians in the face of a new anti-gay law in Russia.
The Russian, who won her third world title Tuesday in front of a boisterous home crowd, came out in favor of the law which has drawn sharp criticism and led Western activists to call for a boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi….
Isinbayeva said it was wrong for the Swedes to make such a statement while competing in Russia.
“It’s unrespectful to our country. It’s unrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians. Maybe we are different from European people and other people from different lands,” Isinbayeva told reporters. “We have our home and everyone has to respect (it). When we arrive to different countries, we try to follow their rules.”…
Isinbayeva is to serve as “mayor” of one of the Olympic villages in Sochi and is an ambassador for the Youth Olympics.
Sochi organizing committee spokeswoman Svetlana Bobrova said the body had no reason to comment on Isinbayeva’s statements.
“We like her and she is the mayor of the Olympic village,” Bobrova told the AP….
The people responsible for enforcing the law sure aren’t backing down:
Russia’s Interior Ministry, which controls the police force, confirmed Monday that the country’s controversial anti-gay law will be enforced during the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Confusion has reigned over how the country intends to act during the February 7-23 Winter Games after President Vladimir Putin signed legislation in June that bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors. The International Olympic Committee first claimed it had received assurances from top government officials that Sochi 2014 athletes and guests will not be affected, prompting Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to insist no one is exempt from the law. “The law enforcement agencies can have no qualms with people who harbor a nontraditional sexual orientation and do not commit such acts [to promote homosexuality to minors], do not conduct any kind of provocation and take part in the Olympics peacefully,” said an Interior Ministry statement issued on Monday.
Via Dan Savage, Nancy Goldstein at The American Prospect:
… Think long and hard before you evoke the spectacle of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin—thus far the model for the West’s approach to Putin—or argue that winning LGBT athletes will “show ’em” in Sochi. In 1935—as in 2013—the International Olympics Committee was keen to pretend that sporting events could wash a clearly politicized setting of its politics, or wipe a dirty city clean. IOC chair Count Henri Baillet-Latour was content with Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s promise that anti-Semitic placards would be taken down during the Olympic games the next year.
In this Faustian bargain, Hitler hid the most obvious signs of what would later become his Final Solution. Jesse Owens, the allegedly “inferior” Negro, kicked Aryan butt on the track and came home with four gold medals (to a country where FDR refused to host him at the White House for fear of losing the Southern vote in the upcoming election). And then, once the international community had left, Hitler and his willing minions invaded neighboring countries and incinerated every fucking Jew, queer, or dissenter they could get their hands on.
Goldstein points out that the International Olympic Committee’s own charter “calls for removing the Olympic Games from any nation that does not satisfy its own requirements for equal rights and tolerance.”
Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, had a very forwarding-friendly piece in the NYTimes:
ON Sept. 10, members of the International Olympic Committee will vote for a new president for the first time in 12 years….
Now the I.O.C. is preparing to stage another Olympics in a host country that almost appears to be taunting organizers and sponsors by flagrantly flouting its pledge. Starting in 2008, Human Rights Watch has documented myriad Russian abuses associated with preparation for the Olympics. These include government harassment and intimidation of activists and journalists, abuses of migrant workers from the former Soviet bloc who are building all the major Olympic venues (including the media center) and forced evictions of some families without compensation. Some migrant workers who tried to complain have been detained.
Over the past year, Russia has also introduced repressive laws targeting certain nonprofit organizations as “foreign agents.” With raids, threats and intimidation, the crackdown has been the most severe of its kind in the post-Soviet era. Central to this campaign is a new law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. All these efforts are at odds with the Olympic ideal, as expressed in its charter, of “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Russian authorities are apparently counting on the I.O.C. to keep quiet again.
The shame here is that the I.O.C. can and has used its considerable leverage to improve the conduct of host nations. Countries with repressive governments often seek to host the Olympics to improve their global reputation, and only the I.O.C. can make the Olympics happen. In the lead-up to the 1988 summer games in Seoul, public protests against South Korea’s military dictatorship escalated, prompting the I.O.C. to press strongly for a democratic transition… Because of bribery scandals surrounding the Atlanta Games in 1996 and Salt Lake City in 2002, it also vets corruption. There is no reason the new I.O.C. president could not issue a mandate to strictly assess the human rights records of bidding countries and monitor a selected host country’s progress toward improving that record….
Nominally a nonprofit entity, the I.O.C. is a multibillion-dollar enterprise, earning its money through franchising, television and sponsorship rights. Before another I.O.C. president is selected, the corporate sponsors who make the Olympics possible should insist that the president enforce the committee’s own rules about human rights. Unless sponsors and franchise-holders like NBC, Coca-Cola, G.E., McDonalds and Visa want to risk being associated with an officially homophobic Olympics, they must find their voices — before the next I.O.C. head is anointed.
The IOC is quite clear: They can be bought, or at least rented. Which means, IMO, if it’s too late to relocate — or cancel — the 2014 games, it’s time for the sponsors to explain that this kind of mealy-mouthed ‘opinions differ’ shuffling is not conducive to a broadcasting-positive high-dollar advertising event…